Rockland County, NY (VINnews/Sandy Eller) – A mother and her adult daughter, both newly widowed, and two children remain hospitalized in very serious condition after the horrific crash that took the lives of two New Square men.
As previously reported on VIN News (https://bit.ly/3d2oKRH), a van transporting the members of two New Square families to the city for a wedding veered off the eastbound lanes of New Hempstead Road for unknown reasons and slammed into a tree. 47 year old Aharon Shmuel Deutsch and his 22 year old son in law Shlomo Birnhack were later pronounced dead at Nyack Hospital.
Sources confirmed that both Deutsch’s wife Esther and her daughter Devorah Birnhack were seriously injured and intubated by first responders, with Birnhack, who is in the final weeks of pregnancy, undergoing brain surgery on Monday night. Two children who were in the van remain hospitalized in the Intensive Care Unit at Westchester Medical Center, with one sustaining a fractured femur, and another in critical condition after suffering an open skull fracture and a fractured femur. The driver of the van is reportedly hospitalized in stable condition.
The Ramapo Police Department reported that the incident took place at approximately 4:21 PM on New Hempstead Road just one mile away from the main entrance to New Square, with the 2009 Ford Econoline van so severely damaged that all ten passengers and the hired driver had to be extricated from the vehicle. The Ramapo Police Department, New York State Police, New York State Park Police, Rockland County Sheriff’s Office, Clarkstown Police Department, Hillcreset Fire Company No. 1, New City Fire Engine Company No. 1, Hatzolah of Rockland County, Chaverim of Rockland, Spring Hill Community Ambulance Corps, Village of New Square EMS and Chesed Shel Emes all responded to the scene.
Chris Kear, public information officer for the Hillcrest Fire Department, said that the crash was the type of scenario that emergency workers train for, but hope to never encounter.
“This was heavy entrapment,” Kear told VIN News. “The front end of the van was crushed and the driver and front seat passenger were completely crunched inside.”
Extricating the unnamed driver, who was pinned behind the steering wheel, was nowhere near as difficult as removing Birnhack, who was sitting in the front passenger seat.
“It took us a good 35 minutes to get him out,” said Kear. “It was very labor intensive, cutting, prying and removing parts of the van piece by piece. We took off the door, the frame all around him and had to remove the dashboard in bits and pieces to get him out.”
It took a team of 12 firefighters to cut through the body of the vehicle to get all of the passengers out, with some removed through the rear of the van and one elderly man extricated through an area where a side window had once been located. That passenger, like the driver, was conscious when he was removed from the van, but others were not responsive, said Kear.
The weight of the extrication equipment as well as the bulk of their gear had firefighters taking shifts as they worked to free the van’s passengers. Reports of an 18 month old baby in the van had rescuers searching for the child who was ultimately discovered to have been left behind and not taken to the wedding.
“I would say every ten or twelve years we get a lengthy process like this one,” said Kear. “Sometimes all you need to do is pop off a door or cut open to get people out but this was a mass casualty incident. There was a surprising amount of damage from what was clearly a very forceful impact.”
No immediate cause for the crash is known at this time and police are continuing to investigate the accident.
A fund has been set up to assist the families.